According to recent research by Clicker, that’s the fact of the matter. 90% of 2009-2010 broadcast TV was on Internet. It makes me wonder what the other 10% was and if they include places like PBS and C-SPAN.Would you believe that 50% of episodes from the season were online within 24 hours of original air date and that 60% of the were offline within three weeks? Well you should, because that’s what Clicker found. They also found that up to 90% of them go offline within six weeks. They stated that there was no set pattern and hypothesized that perhaps this might be a new model for Free-mium content. My thoughts on the matter are thus: Put the content online after the air date for one month, free or ad-supported (after all to watch it on TV is free is it not? and that is ad-supported) After that it could then be archived into a pay-to-view system which is essentially video-on-demand with a reasonable price tag. This would probably cut down on piracy drastically, well in the markets where the content is made available.

Much of the US TV content that ends up online from the broadcaster is locked down to US-only IP addresses. That then forces people to seek out pirated versions of the content for viewing post air date if they are not in the US. I’m not condoning it, I’m just stating a factl. It the broadcasters were smart(er) they might make licensing arrangements for first run online in the original language (English in this case) and then hook up with some worldwide video ad networks (like Tremor) and allow the content to be seen outside of the country, perhaps with a slightly higher ad-per-minute rate than normal to make up for the most-likely lower ad revenue.

Hell, even I would sit down and watch that content, ads and all, just to get it in a timely fashion (say for one week after original air date) and in HD. That’s something to take note of broadcasters because I’m fairly bull-headed on things like watching ads on what I believe should be freely available…like television shows.

Alright, so back to Clicker’s research which only covered free streaming (meaning it’s mostly limited to the US and does not include  paid downloads or VOD streaming from Netflix, Amazon or iTunes.

84% of the 4,420 full-length episodes that were published online were primetime (109 of 127 shows). 11 primetime shows were not published online, the NFL properties were not included and they counded daily shows – Late Night, Leno, etc) as one show per week.

Who’s winning the TV to Online Race?

The short and long of it is The CW who has 100% of their shows online (09/10 season). Next are NBC, ABC, FOX and then CBS based on percentages. The broadcaster with the most shows online was ABC with about 33 (of 36) while CBS had 3o of their 34 shows online. NBC came in third with 21 shows online (of 24), then FOX with 20 of 22 and The CW with 11 of 11.

How many episodes is that? CBS had almost 1,750 episodes online for the season. ABC about 1,250, NBC just shy of 1,000, FOX about 250 and the CW about 200

As stated previously primetime shows were the majority of online shows with daytime a meager 10% and late night about 6%. Of course daytime and late night are generally daily shows and so put up 5x the episodes per week on average. Meanwhile, prime time shows averaged about 18 episodes each while daytime averaged the highest with over 160 and late night had about 120. This means that 41% of all episodes online were from daytime, 20% from late night and only 39% of them were primetime episodes.

The most episodes a primetime show freely streamed online this season was 11 (or 10, I’m not sure about the graph).  Showing the fickle nature of TV executives, 34 or more shows posted less than 15 episodes this season, most likely due to the 32 cancellations in the season (nice number Clicker).  However, 54 shows did manage 15-25 episodes and 7 managed more than 25.

Shows of note that were not online include: The Big Bang Theory, The Mentalist, Cold Case, Law & Order (and SVU).

At the time of their research (July 9, 2010) only 635 full episodes were still available online, or approximately 15% for free streaming. The CW, not surprisingly had the fewest (as they have the fewest shows). Interestingly, when a show is canceled, it disappears from online venues…as if the TV execs are trying to hide it from the fans or to remove any sign of their embarrassment and/or involvement heh.

Clicker then seems to sort of get confused as they say that generally, primetime shows only make around 5-10 episodes available at any given time, even when they have over 20 episodes to offer. Then they say since launching Clicker in November most network shows release only 2-6 episodes online at a time. Sure there’s a distinction between primetime and shows in general, but 84% of those shows are primetime.

What’s it all mean?

Well from an advertising and marketing standpoint, it could mean that there is a market for freely streaming, ad-supported broadcast television show. It could also mean that broadcast could begin to treat online more like they do their other business. By that I mean they could leave shows up as freely streamable on their portals for a limited time and use geo-IP tagging to target ads and generate some further revenue from the shows (not that they really need more revenue right?) It also shows that the broadcast channels are taking online streaming as serious business since every network had more than 85% of their shows online in some fashion.